The Choir has been heralded as one of today's leading Christian modern rock bands. They topped the CCM Magazine readers' poll as Favorite Alternative Band, and received awards for Favorite Alternative Album and Favorite Long-Form Video. Campus Life named 1990's Circle Slide Album of the Year, and the group took home the Syndicate's Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year awards.
The question may arise, "alternative to what?" There are as many styles of alternative music as there are garages in which these underground"and often under-capitalized"bands discover their own answers. Typically it has meant guitars as opposed to keyboards, drums as opposed to machines, experimentation as opposed to formula, and abandon as opposed to restraint. For The Choir, it has also meant faith as an alternative to fear, love as an alternative to self-interest, hope as an alternative to despair.
When, in the early '80s, drummer/lyricist Steve Hindalong and guitarist/vocalist Derri Daugherty decided to form a band, the subsequent union was the marriage of a realist and a romantic. In working with materials close at hand"both conceptual and percussive"Hindalong creates a lyrical and rhythmic realism that avoids both the superficial excesses of literalism and the iconic overkill of much of religious music. Daugherty's guitar palette makes use of distortion and exaggerated colors to convey maximum emotional impact, while his vocals betray an interest in exploring the existential experience of the song far more than delivering an exact reading. Together, they have achieved a rich and allusive body of work which the L.A. Times described as "magical songs that combine strains of murky psychedelia with pure pop" and which Billboard heralded for its "dark poetic leanings, effects-laden guitars and strong melodic hooks."
Early on The Choir emerged as the leaders of a pack of new Southern California Alternative bands, and were the first to get signed by a major Christian label. daugherty and Hindalong, plus sax and lyricon player Dan Michaels and bassist Tim Chandler have always made up the core of the group, augmented at times by substitute bass players (Mike Sauerbrey, Bill Batstone, Robin Spurs, Bill Campbell) when Tim was called on by other commitments and Billy Wilde on second guitar. Tireless road-warriors, the group relentlessly played an assortment of venues ranging from church basements to small clubs to huge international festivals. They shared the stage with The Alarm, Rage Against The Machine, Mercy Seat, Peter Case and Rev. Horton Heat, while regular appearances at mainstream clubs in L.A., Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta and New York earned them a loyal following. Their tours with Steve Taylor and Russ taff, plus their performances at Cornerstone and the Greenbelt Festival , are legendary.
Ever-prolific, the group spawned several other recordings and touring ensembles. Steve recorded a solo album, while Derri co-founded The Lost Dogs. Tim anchored the constantly-morphing Daniel Amos, while the ubiquitous "Buckeye Dan Michaels" made stage and studio appearances with Adam Again, Crystal Lewis, Bryan Duncan and Larry Norman.
In their down-time, the boys started Glasshouse Records and released half a dozen projects by Ric Alba, John Austin, Rev. Dan Smith and The Throes, plus the fabulously inventive worship series, At The Foot Of The Cross. With all of this production work, it was only natural that they would need their own recording space. At the two locations of Derri's Neverland Recording Studios (L.A. & Nashville) Daugherty and hindalong have produced albums by over 30 artists, including the Prayer Chain, The Throes, Hoi Polloi, Between Thieves, Common Children and Christine Glass.
One of the pleasures of listening to the music of The Choir is that you begin to discover some of the patterns in the Hindalong/Daugherty song writing process. Steve is an architectural daredevil, erecting a scaffolding of inter-locking rhythms that constantly shift while maintaining a basic amorphous shape. Derri is a structural anarchist, destroying all but the most lingering sense of order, proportion and symmetry with wave-upon-wave of multi-layered guitars. Together, the music they create has a structural ension so great that its disparate elements sometimes seem on the verge of flying apart. Further, like most good architecture, there is no one "right" vantage point from which the whole structure can be understood, thus providing the listener multiple perspectives and a dynamic of meanings. Never one to use a 2 by 4 when a metaphor will do, The Choir's lyrical approach eschews the popular insistence on a linear narrative, refusing to deal in the opiate of the obvious. In a moribund genre whose artists could never be accused of an excess of honesty, courage and individuality, the music of The Choir has provided a life-giving alternative.